What is the connection between meditation and trance?
Meditation is the conscious act and practice of causing an altered state of consciousness or trance. Learning to meditate will make it easier to fall into a trance when you need to relax and de-stress, perform magic, or even finish that exercise on time. It trains your mind to be able to focus and do what you want it to.
Before I share with you some meditation tips, let’s talk about the things that people believe are not true. If you’re having trouble meditating, it’s probably because you believe one of these things and it’s holding you back.
Misconceptions about Meditation
1. Only a monk can do it.
Wrong! Everyone can do it. Monks are very good because it is what they do all day. You only have to do it a few minutes a day, however, to completely change your life, behavior, and outlook on the world. Also, your reasons for meditation may be different from those of a Buddhist monk or a Hindu, and that will also determine the type of meditation you pursue.
Meditate tip: get it out of your head that you have been enlightened to meditate. That is the opposite.
2. Meditation means not thinking about anything.
Well, good luck with that! Our mind is designed to constantly think something or everything at once. Meditation gives us the ability to distance ourselves from our thoughts and to observe them so that we are not ruled by them. Meditation allows us the space to see what our brains serve, and then decide if it’s a thought worth keeping or one to trash. There is a lot of garbage that our brains create, and meditation allows us to clean it up. When you can filter your thoughts, you can bend them to your will.
Meditation tip: you are learning to focus your mind, not negating it.
3. You have to focus
Meditation is not about forcing you to think, imagine, and mantra. It’s gently guiding it back to that point, over and over every time it wanders to some other thought. Forcing your mind defeats the purpose of real concentration. Anyone who has ever tried to force or pull a horse (or other large or stubborn animals) into anything knows it won’t work. Likewise, you must coax your mind back onto track, steady and light. Meditation is a practice, not a static state of mind. It’s like a balance, you’re constantly shifting to find that sweet spot.
Meditation tip: practice and don’t expect perfection.
4. Meditation means sitting still
Yes, that is one way to meditate. You can also meditate with a hula hoop, or by drawing a picture, or by beating a drum, or by doing yoga. You don’t have to sit in the lotus position (I certainly can’t – it hurts my knees!) for hours. What you hope to achieve by meditating will give you insight into the method to use. If you want to release tension and get out of your head and connect with your body, then something physical might be the best choice. If you’re trying to stimulate creativity, doing some repetitive art can do the trick. But, if you’re trying to focus your thoughts, sitting still and breathing or chanting will do the trick.
There are different levels of intensity for meditation. If you want to sit in a cave in the woods, not eating, drinking, or moving for months at a time, that requires a very intense and profound level of meditation. It will take years (or longevity) to reach that level. But, you don’t really have to do that to be successful with meditation. You can still gain spiritual insights, peace, and higher awareness if you dance or sing for a few minutes a day.
Meditation tip: don’t be afraid to turn it up!
5. I can't go into trance.
You go into trance literally every day. Trance is an altered state of consciousness where you know only half of the world around you. You do this a lot.
Have you ever daydreamed and then had someone spook you by “jogging” you out of it with a loud noise, only to find out they called your name for 5 minutes and were standing right next to you? Yeah, you’re in trance. How about those times when you drive home and realize you have no idea what happened on the road because you were thinking about something else? You are in a trance state. What about when you get so into your work or play that hours go by and it feels like minutes? Trance status! Anytime you watch TV or become absorbed in a book you are in a trance state.
Meditation tip: you already have the ability.
Great. Now, what are some other meditation tips?
The best of all the meditation advice anyone has ever given me is to start with the breath. Sit comfortably (but straight!), either leg crossed on the floor or in a chair with your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply for 4 times, filling your entire belly. Hold it for 4 times, then exhale completely for 4 counts, and hold before repeating. If you are just starting out, start with 1-3 minutes. You may feel dizzy, so don’t try to go for a long time.
While you do this, focus on the number and breath moving in and out. If another thought comes to mind, gently return to your mind to breathe. After a few days or weeks, you’ll notice you have a much easier and possibly longer period. There are also other breaths you can experiment with.
One of my favorite forms of meditation is chanting on the mala or prayer beads. If you have a favorite mantra (I am the Maha-mantra), then use it. If you have a favorite prayer, then repeat it for each bead. This is a great way to connect with God. I also know people who will recite an affirmation, which is a great way to connect with yourself. Mala beads give your tactile senses to focus on, and chanting gives you something to do and your ears to hear, so you’ll be focusing your senses on one thing, which can help your mind. you don’t wander too much.
I recommend these types of meditation to anyone. If you can do one or both, the other types are much easier.
What do I need when I meditate?
There are some cool props that are useful to have, like a meditation pillow or blanket. If you find meditating uncomfortable, invest in a good pillow. You don’t have to put up with discomfort. For chanting meditation, you will receive a set of beads to count. I use Japa Mala beads, but many people use other forms of prayer beads or rosaries.
If you feel lost or like the idea of having some guidance, guided meditations are really great. There are also lots of guided meditations on audio, and ambient music that’s nice to listen to. Music doesn’t just “set the mood,” but it’s a powerful tool for changing the frequency of your brain waves. YouTube has so many ambient nature sounds, or meditation songs, that I can’t even begin to list them. I like ocean waves and Celtic music, or kirtan music, but you might like something else. Have fun finding what you like!
These are really helpful to have, especially when you are starting out. But here’s another meditation tip: you have to have a space where you won’t be disturbed by phones, electronics, or other people. This could be a room in your house or a secluded spot in nature or even a shower if that’s the only place that works. I find it very helpful if you have a place that is located everywhere. If you are consistent about how often you meditate and where you do it, it will be easier. Then you will be able to meditate anywhere.
If you can’t sit still, one of the best meditation tips I can give you is to try some form of moving meditation. Yoga is one of my favorite forms of meditation. I wrote a blog about why yoga is so great.
I also love to dance, and hoop dancing is a lot of fun! As I danced to meditate, I closed my eyes and felt the ring move around me to the beat of the music. It helps me connect with my body very quickly and effectively. If you want to give it a try, you’ll want an adult hoop. They are easier than a child’s lap.
Dancing hoops isn’t the only way to dance your way to trance. Of Sufi famous for spinning and whirling trance dance. Remember when you were a kid and used to spin around? Try it now! It is very effective. Again, do this a little at a time so you don’t get too dizzy and fall on. Working for long periods of time spinning, or just moving however your body wants to move.
Meditation is a practice, which means you’ll have to, you know, practice it! If you feel down, remember this, take a breath and try again. It becomes easier.
Meditation works best when you do it every day. If you only have one minute to spare to do a few rounds of meditative breathing each morning in the bathroom, take one. If you can do more, great. But don’t think that a minute won’t do anything for you, because if you do it every day, you’ll see it.
If you try one form of meditation and you can’t get the hang of it, try another. Maybe go back to the first one after you’re more confident, or maybe not. Everyone is different. The meditation that works best for you may not be what “everyone else” is doing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Good luck and namaste!
Misconceptions about Meditation - Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Read More: 5 Meditation Tips For Beginners